I read over the weekend there’s evidence to suggest that the Mets’ former CF Mike Cameron showed defensive range in ’04 comparable to that of the Cardinals’ Jim Edmonds. And that’s the great thing about stats that can tell you things that just watching a guy play center every day might not. Especially as the Mets are apparently having trouble convincing the rest of baseball that Cameron is capable of winning another Gold Glove. From Jon Heyman in Tuesday’s Newsday.
A person familiar with the Mets’ various trade talks told Newsday “the market wasn’t what they thought it would be” for Cameron. Which explains why general manager Omar Minaya abruptly removed Cameron from the trade market yesterday after weeks of talks. “Mike Cameron is going to be our rightfielder,” he said.
It’s hard to imagine what great windfall the Mets expected to reap for Cameron, who’s injured and disgruntled, and who gets on base far too infrequently, whiffs far too often and looked oddly lost in centerfield at Shea at times last year.
It shouldn’t have shocked anyone that it wasn’t much. There were chances to acquire Eric Byrnes, who’s really a fourth outfielder, and Preston Wilson, whose 2005 salary is double Cameron’s. But that’s about it.
Although Cameron obviously has a high opinion of himself, as he has refused to concede he should move quietly to rightfield, the reality is he’s no bargain with $12.5 million remaining on his Mets contract over two years. The reality is he’s a rightfielder now, at least until he can stir something else up.
Cameron wants everything both ways, his ways. He wants to play centerfield but doesn’t want to go to Oakland to play centerfield. He wants to win, but he acted put off for weeks after the Mets improved significantly by signing superstar Carlos Beltran. He suggests he’s a team man. But he’s acting as self-interested as anyone could.
Cameron’s had plenty of time to deal with the disappointment of being replaced, and he had better adjust fast. Club execs recently visited Cameron in Atlanta and Minaya has made him a regular calling partner in the team’s continuing efforts to stroke his ego, more outsized than anyone realized.
The penultimate player in camp (he beat Gerald Williams), Cameron acts as if centerfield is his birthright. He plays coy when asked about his feelings, but when pressed yesterday, he asserted, “We all know what I am.”
Cameron is pleasant, which explains why he’s getting absurd slack. But the reality is he’s acting like a spoiled rich kid, and has been for weeks.
Cameron talks about the importance of making Beltran feel comfortable in his transition but does nothing to facilitate that. When asked his opinion about Beltran’s centerfield ability, he uses lukewarm words such as “good” and “improving.”
The correct answer, which has eluded Cameron so far, is that Beltran (above) is a superb all-around player and the team’s future. And that he, Cameron, will happily try to become the best rightfielder he can be.
What Cameron needs to change are his ways. He’s the only one balking at Willie Randolph’s rules changes, designed to promote teamwork. When Cameron heard that Randolph frowned on loud clubhouse music, Cameron responded, “I’m going to tell Willie you’ve got to have rhythm. It will be a long year if you have to go the year without music.”
For a guy who hit .231 with 143 strikeouts, and who’s been replaced in center and is currently sidelined, Cameron sure is full of demands, isn’t he?
Who the Mets would get in return for Cameron is also somewhat unclear. The Astros could net Cameron in a three-way trade that would send A’s outfielder Eric Byrnes to the Mets and move Houston second baseman Chris Burke, a top prospect, to Oakland.
As for Seattle, Cameron thrived there from 2000-03, and reacquiring him would leave the Mariners with four starting outfielders (Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez and Randy Winn are the others) along with top prospect Jeremy Reed. So it stands to reason that either Winn or Ibanez could be involved in a potential swap.
The A’s also have strong interest in Cameron ” GM Billy Beane is a longtime admirer ” and an NL GM said one name he has heard in connection with Cameron is flame-throwing closer Octavio Dotel (though the A’s have disputed that Dotel is even available). But Cameron’s partial no-trade clause includes the A’s and he’s unwilling to waive it. Neither Seattle nor Houston is on Cameron’s no-trade.